Increasing Competition in Pathology and Diagnostic Imaging

The Australian Government is increasing competition and improving patient choice in the nation’s pathology and diagnostic imaging sectors.

Page last updated: 12 May 2009

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Joint Release

The Hon Nicola Roxon MP
Minister for Health and Ageing

The Hon Lindsay Tanner MP
Minister for Finance and Deregulation

12 May 2009

The Government is increasing competition and improving patient choice in Australia’s pathology and diagnostic imaging sectors.

As part of the Government’s commitment to deregulation and improving productivity, initiatives in this year’s Budget will cut red tape and encourage providers to compete for patients on price and convenience.

The Government will reduce regulation of pathology centres so that there is no limit on the number of Medicare-eligible collection centres a pathology provider can operate. Collection centres are the shop fronts where patients can go to provide specimens for pathology testing.

An independent review of collection centre arrangements found that existing restrictions on collection centre numbers inhibit the growth of smaller providers while facilitating the growth of larger ones, creating an uneven playing field.

From 1 July 2010, all providers will be able to have as many collection centres as they choose, giving greater choice to patients and enhancing competition.

The Government will also improve patient choice by allowing patients to choose their pathology or diagnostic imaging provider for Medicare services.

Request forms for both pathology and diagnostic imaging services will be amended to inform patients that they can use the form to obtain Medicare-eligible services from any accredited provider.

Currently, patients cannot necessarily choose a different pathology provider from the one selected by the doctor and still be eligible for a Medicare benefit. Legislation will be changed to ensure that patients can choose their pathology provider for testing requested by their doctor.

For all inquiries please contact the Minister's office – 02 6277 7220